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IAEA worried over Iran plans to triple uranium production

July 7, 2011 09:26

UN nuclear chief Amano to meet Iranian FM Salehi, says "further cooperation is needed to restore confidence of int'l community."

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano

Amano 311 (R). (photo credit:REUTERS)

BOGOTA - The UN nuclear chief said on Wednesday that he planned to meet with Iran's foreign minister next week and that he was "quite concerned" over plans by Tehran to triple uranium production capacity.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told Reuters in the Colombian capital, Bogota, that he planned to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi next week, but had no firm details.

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"The most important message for Iran is that they need to fully implement the safeguard agreement and other relevant obligations. Further cooperation is needed to restore the confidence of the international community," he said.

"We are quite concerned about that," Amano said, confirming that the IAEA had received a "very simple" letter from Iran about the plans.

Iran announced last month it would shift its production of higher-grade uranium to an underground bunker and triple output capacity in a defiant move that further fueled Western unease about Tehran's intentions.

Western powers suspect Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability while Tehran rejects the charge, saying its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity.

Iran's refusal to halt enrichment has led to four rounds of UN sanctions on the major oil producer, as well tighter US and European Union restrictions.

Iran's determination to press ahead with a nuclear program suggests that the sanctions are so far failing to force the Islamic state to back down in the long-running dispute over its atomic aims.

Amano reiterated he would consider accepting an invitation to visit Iran but stressed it would have to yield concrete results: "For now I don't see, unfortunately, progress."

On Syria -- which the IAEA's board reported to the Security Council in early June for covert atomic work -- Amano said that there had been no "concrete progress".

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